A Legal hold is a process which an organization uses to preserve all forms of relevant information when litigation is reasonably anticipated.
Recent amendments to the United States Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) address the discovery of electronically stored information (ESI) (aka e-discovery), expanding the use of a "legal hold" beyond preservation of paper documents. The amendments were written in anticipation of legal arguments and tactics related to the production of ESI, such as the cost and difficulty of producing such ESI and claims that such ESI was missing, deleted, or otherwise inaccessible when it really wasn’t the case. These changes took effect December 1, 2006 and require organizations to hold all electronic records until each legal matter is formally settled, even if an organization only reasonably anticipates litigation.
This notification and subsequent related reminders should be created and distributed to specific custodians and should require the custodian to confirm receipt of such notification. This is far superior to the traditional use of read receipts reconciliation and follow-up because it allows for an unambiguous custodian response and provide real-time tracking and reporting on custodian responses. Further, automatic logging of all related audit trail information related to the legal hold notification process is also highly recommended.
The system must make use of a highly accurate policy-based approach that enables archived and current electronic communications – including e-mail, instant messages, web transactions and communications sent from handheld devices – to be categorized and tagged according to their relevance to specific corporate policy.
Due to the substantial risks associated with deleting, losing, or not having access to such data, this should be a segregated repository to better deal with the unique retention requirements and access needs of this subset of an organization’s stored documents.